Year of publication
- Working Paper (41) (remove)
- Monetary policy and uncertainty about the natural unemployment rate (2003)
- Inflation-targeting central banks have only imperfect knowledge about the effect of policy decisions on inflation. An important source of uncertainty is the relationship between inflation and unemployment. This paper studies the optimal monetary policy in the presence of uncertainty about the natural unemployment rate, the short-run inflation-unemployment tradeoff and the degree of inflation persistence in a simple macroeconomic model, which incorporates rational learning by the central bank as well as private sector agents. Two conflicting motives drive the optimal policy. In the static version of the model, uncertainty provides a motive for the policymaker to move more cautiously than she would if she knew the true parameters. In the dynamic version, uncertainty also motivates an element of experimentation in policy. I find that the optimal policy that balances the cautionary and activist motives typically exhibits gradualism, that is, it still remains less aggressive than a policy that disregards parameter uncertainty. Exceptions occur when uncertainty is very high and in inflation close to target. This version: December 2002
- Monetary theory and monetary policy : reflections on the development over the last 150 years [Version December 8, 2012] (2012)
- In this paper, we provide some reflections on the development of monetary theory and monetary policy over the last 150 years. Rather than presenting an encompassing overview, which would be overambitious, we simply concentrate on a few selected aspects that we view as milestones in the development of this subject. We also try to illustrate some of the interactions with the political and financial system, academic discussion and the views and actions of central banks.
- Complexity and monetary policy : [Version August 10, 2012] (2012)
- The complexity resulting from intertwined uncertainties regarding model misspecification and mismeasurement of the state of the economy defines the monetary policy landscape. Using the euro area as laboratory this paper explores the design of robust policy guides aiming to maintain stability in the economy while recognizing this complexity. We document substantial output gap mismeasurement and make use of a new model data base to capture the evolution of model specification. A simple interest rate rule is employed to interpret ECB policy since 1999. An evaluation of alternative policy rules across 11 models of the euro area confirms the fragility of policy analysis optimized for any specific model and shows the merits of model averaging in policy design. Interestingly, a simple difference rule with the same coefficients on inflation and output growth as the one used to interpret ECB policy is quite robust as long as it responds to current outcomes of these variables.
- Fiscal consolidation strategy (2012)
- In the aftermath of the global financial crisis and great recession, many countries face substantial deficits and growing debts. In the United States, federal government outlays as a ratio to GDP rose substantially from about 19.5 percent before the crisis to over 24 percent after the crisis. In this paper we consider a fiscal consolidation strategy that brings the budget to balance by gradually reducing this spending ratio over time to the level that prevailed prior to the crisis. A crucial issue is the impact of such a consolidation strategy on the economy. We use structural macroeconomic models to estimate this impact focussing primarily on a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with price and wage rigidities and adjustment costs. We separate out the impact of reductions in government purchases and transfers, and we allow for a reduction in both distortionary taxes and government debt relative to the baseline of no consolidation. According to the model simulations GDP rises in the short run upon announcement and implementation of this fiscal consolidation strategy and remains higher than the baseline in the long run. We explore the role of the mix of expenditure cuts and tax reductions as well as gradualism in achieving this policy outcome. Finally, we conduct sensitivity studies regarding the type of model used and its parameterization.
- A new comparative approach to macroeconomic modeling and policy analysis (2012)
- In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the state of macroeconomic modeling and the use of macroeconomic models in policy analysis has come under heavy criticism. Macroeconomists in academia and policy institutions have been blamed for relying too much on a particular class of macroeconomic models. This paper proposes a comparative approach to macroeconomic policy analysis that is open to competing modeling paradigms. Macroeconomic model comparison projects have helped produce some very influential insights such as the Taylor rule. However, they have been infrequent and costly, because they require the input of many teams of researchers and multiple meetings to obtain a limited set of comparative findings. This paper provides a new approach that enables individual researchers to conduct model comparisons easily, frequently, at low cost and on a large scale. Using this approach a model archive is built that includes many well-known empirically estimated models that may be used for quantitative analysis of monetary and fiscal stabilization policies. A computational platform is created that allows straightforward comparisons of models’ implications. Its application is illustrated by comparing different monetary and fiscal policies across selected models. Researchers can easily include new models in the data base and compare the effects of novel extensions to established benchmarks thereby fostering a comparative instead of insular approach to model development.
- Is there a threat of self-reinforcing deflation in the Euro area? A view through the lens of the Phillips curve (2014)
- The recent decline in euro area inflation has triggered new calls for additional monetary stimulus by the ECB in order to counter the threat of a self‐reinforcing deflation and recession spiral. This note reviews the available evidence on inflation expectations, output gaps and other factors driving current inflation through the lens of the Phillips curve. It also draws a comparison to the Japanese experience with deflation in the late 1990s and the evidence from Japan concerning the outputinflation nexus at low trend inflation. The note concludes from this evidence that the risk of a selfreinforcing deflation remains very small. Thus, the ECB best await the impact of the long‐term refinancing operations decided in June that have the potential to induce substantial monetary accommodation once implemented for the first time in September.
- The new keynesian approach to dynamic general equilibrium modeling: models, methods, and macroeconomic policy evaluation (2012)
- This chapter aims to provide a hands-on approach to New Keynesian models and their uses for macroeconomic policy analysis. It starts by reviewing the origins of the New Keynesian approach, the key model ingredients and representative models. Building blocks of current-generation dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models are discussed in detail. These models address the famous Lucas critique by deriving behavioral equations systematically from the optimizing and forward-looking decision-making of households and firms subject to well-defined constraints. State-of-the-art methods for solving and estimating such models are reviewed and presented in examples. The chapter goes beyond the mere presentation of the most popular benchmark model by providing a framework for model comparison along with a database that includes a wide variety of macroeconomic models. Thus, it offers a convenient approach for comparing new models to available benchmarks and for investigating whether particular policy recommendations are robust to model uncertainty. Such robustness analysis is illustrated by evaluating the performance of simple monetary policy rules across a range of recently-estimated models including some with financial market imperfections and by reviewing recent comparative findings regarding the magnitude of government spending multipliers. The chapter concludes with a discussion of important objectives for on-going and future research using the New Keynesian framework.
- Fiscal consolidation strategy: An update for the budget reform proposal of march 2013 (2013)
- Recently, we evaluated a fiscal consolidation strategy for the United States that would bring the government budget into balance by gradually reducing government spending relative to GDP to the ratio that prevailed prior to the crisis (Cogan et al, JEDC 2013). Specifically, we published an analysis of the macroeconomic consequences of the 2013 Budget Resolution that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2012. In this note, we provide an update of our research that evaluates this year’s budget reform proposal that is to be discussed and voted on in the House of Representative in March 2013. Contrary to the views voiced by critics of fiscal consolidation, we show that such a reduction in government purchases and transfer payments can increase GDP immediately and permanently relative to a policy without spending restraint. Our research makes use of a modern structural model of the economy that incorporates the long-standing essential features of economics: opportunity costs, efficiency, foresight and incentives. GDP rises because households take into account that spending restraint helps avoid future increases in tax rates. Lower taxes imply less distorted incentives for work, investment and production relative to a scenario without fiscal consolidation and lead to higher growth.
- Economic projections and rules-of-thumb for monetary policy (2008)
- Monetary policy analysts often rely on rules-of-thumb, such as the Taylor rule, to describe historical monetary policy decisions and to compare current policy to historical norms. Analysis along these lines also permits evaluation of episodes where policy may have deviated from a simple rule and examination of the reasons behind such deviations. One interesting question is whether such rules-of-thumb should draw on policymakers "forecasts of key variables such as inflation and unemployment or on observed outcomes. Importantly, deviations of the policy from the prescriptions of a Taylor rule that relies on outcomes may be due to systematic responses to information captured in policymakers" own projections. We investigate this proposition in the context of FOMC policy decisions over the past 20 years using publicly available FOMC projections from the biannual monetary policy reports to the Congress (Humphrey-Hawkins reports). Our results indicate that FOMC decisions can indeed be predominantly explained in terms of the FOMC´s own projections rather than observed outcomes. Thus, a forecast-based rule-of-thumb better characterizes FOMC decision-making. We also confirm that many of the apparent deviations of the federal funds rate from an outcome-based Taylor-style rule may be considered systematic responses to information contained in FOMC projections.
- Learning, endogenous indexation and disinflation in the New-Keynesian Model (2008)
- This paper introduces adaptive learning and endogenous indexation in the New-Keynesian Phillips curve and studies disinflation under inflation targeting policies. The analysis is motivated by the disinflation performance of many inflation-targeting countries, in particular the gradual Chilean disinflation with temporary annual targets. At the start of the disinflation episode price-setting firms’ expect inflation to be highly persistent and opt for backward-looking indexation. As the central bank acts to bring inflation under control, price-setting firms revise their estimates of the degree of persistence. Such adaptive learning lowers the cost of disinflation. This reduction can be exploited by a gradual approach to disinflation. Firms that choose the rate for indexation also re-assess the likelihood that announced inflation targets determine steady-state inflation and adjust indexation of contracts accordingly. A strategy of announcing and pursuing short-term targets for inflation is found to influence the likelihood that firms switch from backward-looking indexation to the central bank’s targets. As firms abandon backward-looking indexation the costs of disinflation decline further. We show that an inflation targeting strategy that employs temporary targets can benefit from lower disinflation costs due to the reduction in backward-looking indexation.